Today’s guest column is from our regular contributor, Jim Cunningham. Jim recently relocated to the Philippines, and is living in Talakag, Bukidnon.
Having at last taken the plunge and purchased a set of wheels I now know what other people mean when they talk about driving in the Philippines. In all the 25 plus years I’ve been visiting the Philippines I have never driven a vehicle here in all that time until last Monday that is.
After ordering our new vehicle from the dealership in Cagayan de Oro just before Christmas, I must confess as the day drew near to collect it in early January 2009 I felt more than a little apprehensive at the thought. Its funny but up till the point of ordering the vehicle and paying the deposit I never gave the driving part any serious thought. I have held a driving licence for over 40 years and driven hundreds of thousands of miles in that time with both my work as well as for pleasure in the UK, mainland Europe, Africa and the USA but never South East Asia or indeed the Philippines. During the time I have been driving I have witnessed humorous, unbelievable as well as tragic incidents on the road. One example whilst in Nigeria I saw a 40 foot trailer still connected to its tractor unit with one on one side of a concrete centre reservation and the other on the opposite side with no one injured except pride I presume. I have seen bodies cut from vehicles and it makes you shudder at the thought and at the time of passing the incident. Anyway back to the present, last Monday to be exact when I turned up at the dealership paid the balance and was then taken to the service area and then given the mandatory once over of the controls etc. After a warm handshake and plenty of smiles and waves from the sales staff I suddenly found I was on my own. What do I do now was the first thing that went through my head. There was no use asking Marilou for advice as she has a firm grip of her seat with her eyes shut tight. Well I actually turned right and joined the mayhem that is driving in the Philippines. Where did the sales guy say the horn was, oh yes I remember and haven’t forgotten or taken my hand off it since. In the whole week I have been driving all 327 Km’s I have managed to avoid being hit by every conceivable object from Batchelor’s buses, HGV lorries, Jeepneys, Motorellas,Trisikads, Motorbikes other various private vehicles, human beings, dogs and carabao and that’s just to name a few. I thought I had done well managing to get to being 62 years of age and still not being completely grey on top, I fear this may change sooner rather than later.
Well as we say in the UK “The joys of motoring”, I hope in time and as my knuckles return to a less pale appearance I can relax sufficiently to really appreciate the freedom that owning my wheels could possibly bring to Marilou and I. So if any of you Kings of the Road happen to come across an exasperated Scotsman and his irate Asawa just toot your horn and I will hopefully be able to wave or perhaps give some other kind of hand signal as you pass by.